Millions of Londoners will face tougher restrictions from Saturday, as the capital is set to shift from Tier 1 to Tier 2 from midnight tonight.
Ministers were briefed on the new measures this morning, following a sharp spike in coronavirus cases across the capital.
Health secretary Matt Hancock later confirmed that Essex will join London on “high” alert in the small hours of Saturday morning.
Here’s what the new restrictions will mean for you:
Can I still go round to my friend’s house?
No. Households will be barred from mixing indoors from midnight tonight.
That means you can only meet indoors with your bubble; i.e. anyone you already live with.
The rule of six will still apply to meetings outdoors and in private gardens, meaning Bonfire Night is still on the cards for you and five other friends.
Can I go round to my partner’s house?
The rules are slightly murky on this. Technically, your bubble should only include people you already live with, unless you are a single-adult household that has formed a support bubble with a separate household that lives locally.
In other words, if either you or your partner live alone and have formed a support bubble with each other, you’re fine. If you both live in house shares, you are not allowed to see one another under the new rules.
If you are a single parent with a child under the age of 18 you can also form a support bubble with a household other than the child’s other parent.
Otherwise, indoor social interactions between households will be banned from tonight night as the rules stand.
Can I still go to the pub with my mates?
Yes and no.
The ban on indoor mixing between households extends to pubs, bars and restaurants. That means you can’t go for a pint or meal with your friends if you sit inside.
But since different households are still allowed to meet outdoors providing they abide by the rule of six, you can still eat al fresco with your friends or hit up the beer gardens. Wrap up warm.
Should I still go into work?
Government orders are still to work from home where possible “for at least six months”.
However, if you do go into work, the ban on household mixing will not apply while you are in the office.
Under Tier 2 restrictions, people are advised to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. That means getting into work may be a little trickier.
If you need to travel, you should walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
Can I still go to the gym?
Yes. Indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the rule of six is maintained. Health centres will also remain open.
Can I still go to shops/museums/cinemas?
Yes. All shops will remain open, while museums and galleries advise you to book ahead for a specified time slot. Cinemas (if they haven’t shut for the foreseeable future) will stay open.
Since indoor mixing between households is banned under Tier 2, you can only shop/see the Gaugin/chow down on popcorn with members of your own household or support bubble. No Hinge dates to see that new Greta documentary.
Can I still visit my parents?
No. You can only visit your parents if you already live with them, or if you meet for a cup of tea in the garden.
Care homes will now be closed to external visitors other than in exceptional circumstances.
Otherwise, the same rules apply for meeting in public spaces — no meals/drinks with your parents indoors, but you’re fine outside.
Ministers are said to be discussing alleviating the rules for Christmas, with the hope that the new tier system will stem the current rise in infections in time for your turkey lunch.
What happens if I break the rules?
Meeting indoors with people from another household (other than in your support bubble, or with certain exceptions listed below) will become illegal from midnight tonight.
The police will be able to take action against you if you meet in groups of larger than six or with people outside your household.
That includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines.
You can be fined £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
What are the exceptions?
Some people are exempt from the ban on indoor gatherings between households, including if you are:
- In a legally permitted support bubble
- For work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services
- For registered childcare, education or training
- For prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
- For supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
- For birth partners
- To see someone who is dying
- To provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
- To fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
- To provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable
- To facilitate a house move
- For a wedding or equivalent ceremony and wedding receptions where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus — up to a maximum of 15 people (not to take place in private dwellings)
- For funerals — up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present (not to take place in private dwellings)
- For elite sportspeople and their coaches if necessary for competition and training, as well as parents or guardians if they are a child
- For outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport, and licensed outdoor physical activity
- Indoor organised team sports for disabled people, and youth sport
- Support groups of up to 15 participants — formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support (not to take place in private dwellings)
- Protests — if organised in compliance with Covid-secure guidance